The Works, Inc. - Memphis, TN

2nd place winner and $10,000 grant recipient

Nominated by: Karen Ellis

“Part of Dr. King’s vision for what we should do for others included the Poor People’s campaign which focused on the struggle for genuine equality and other issues facing millions of low-income people. Promoting an equitable community is clearly the mission of The Works, Inc. in South Memphis …” begins the essay submitted by Karen Ellis.

Karen described how excited she is about the mission and accomplishments of The Works – the organization focuses on health disparities, affordable housing, neighborhood revitalization, replacing empty lots with parks, job training and education among the many issues impacting residents of South Memphis.

Karen wrote about one of the organization’s top priorities - eradicating South Memphis as a “food desert.”

“The inaccessibility of high-quality food is certainly a key rung of social injustice. With more than a third of residents in this neighborhood having no access to a car, some have shared stories of 1-1.5 hour-journeys to take buses to the nearest grocery store. Recognizing that children can’t learn and adults can’t properly provide for families or focus on employment without adequately meeting this fundamental need, The Works is addressing the issue in a couple of ways.  The organization operates The South Memphis Farmers Market, which provides access to healthy affordable foods from local growers during market season, and The Grocer, a year-round grocery store. Before the pandemic, The Works also offered cooking classes to help improve family nutrition.”

Karen says she enjoys volunteering at the Farmers Market. “There are a lot of senior citizens who show up that can use some help, and the farmers are interesting people to chat with, too.”

Karen says winning the $10,000 grant for The Works is the best news she’s gotten in a long time.

“This grant will go a long way.  The Works’ efforts to deliver high quality food, assist with home ownership, improve the quality of life in this neighborhood and encouraging economic reinvestment in this community are all clearly aligned with Dr. King’s vision of equality. ”

To learn more about The Works, Inc. visit –


Farmer's market photos courtesy of The Works, Inc.

Karen Ellis photo courtesy of Karen Ellis


To read more about the other winners, please click on the links below.

1st place winner and $20,000 grant recipient

Veteran's Community Project - Kansas City, KS

3rd place winner and $5.000 grant recipient

Anquan Boldin (Q81) Foundation - West Palm Beach, FL